So the basketball world has been rocked once again with the controversy involving Japeth Aguilar and his “change of heart” leaving Burger King and the PBA in the air with his desire to move to play fulltime with the Smart Gilas developmental team. He says he simply wants to play for the country. He admits he may have “erred” in opting to go on with the PBA draft as it was then his “dream” to play in the PBA and interestingly, it was deemed a requirement for him to join the PBA backed Powerade Team Pilipinas.
There have been various scenarios raised and threats thrown. From a lifetime ban, to a full-on suit. He has been accused that it’s all about the money and that his 2 main advisers his father Peter and columnist Ronnie Natahnielsz have given him bad and selfish advice.
Initially most people could just not swallow the “I want to be patriotic and simply play for my country bit”. I understand that its tough to buy that as the reason to bolt from the pros. But there’s got to be something more than just that. Is it then the money?
Without knowing the facts yet of what he stands to make with Gilas, the “more money” issue is hard to prove for now. Nathanielsz insists that Gilas has not made any such offer, same with Noli Eala of the SBP. But I am inclined to agree with most that it does involve a lot of money and that it’s damn close or possibly even a bit more than the rookie PBA max. Why would anyone leave for less money than the current offer right? So its a given that the money is a consideration and it seems it is significant enough either way he goes. But for argument’s sake, would that difference (if ever there is a significant difference) be the sole compelling reason to bolt from BK and the 35 year old pro league and risk all this wrath?
In my honest opinion, I don’t think so. Not unless you see Japeth, his Dad Peter, and agent Nathanielsz that much of “mukhang pera”. That’s your call and your opinion. From the little that I know of the kid, he is very humble and soft spoken. As for Nathanielsz, yes he has a colorful past in the eyes of many, but with regards to “advising basketball players” which to my knowledge he rarely rarely does, maybe best to ask Benjie Paras. Coz from what I know he was the last and only other PBA player that Nathanielsz actively advised and represented. And we all know how his career turned out and what kind of a man he grew up to be from being a hotshot rookie from UP. To add to this, to those who think Nathanielsz and Eala of SBP are in cahoots, I think you need to do more research and you’ll figure out its not a rosey picture between them to begin with. Here’s one example – http://bit.ly/La9jE
To all you Japeth haters who want his head, want him banned for life, that’s your opinion and I respect that, but let’s see you make an effort to not cheer him on when he gives his all for his country this time next year.
Take this into consideration, all athletes who play in the RP team play with heart and soul, and throw out their guts on the court. They play HARD, risking injury every single second playing for flag and country. Unlike a significant percentage of the pros who (yes may make as much now as Gilas players but…) play “pa-peteks-peteks” lang until they get their contract extensions.
So his values and integrity is also being put in question. Fine he is young. Fine his dad is jobless and is desperate to find the best path for his son to secure the family’s future. But what about the team that he is leaving who is crying foul? Who here is a true diehard Burger King fan? I know of Burger King diehards coz of their food and free wifi, but how many times have they been involved in an a wild lopsided trade that, although it is very hard to prove, they have been accused of “selling their players”. I am not categorically accusing them of anything but it’s just too many lopsided trades that were too good to true.
Just recently they again defied logic by sending away franchise player Arwind Santos in exchange for who? For what? Samigue Eman, Ken Bono, and an ageing Chris Calaguio? All bench riders. You’ve got to be kidding me. So said firequinito (http://firequinito.com/archives/110-Burger-King-trades-Arwind-Santos-to-San-Miguel-for-a-plate-of-roasted-highland-legumes.html) too in his blog but fq goes all out to call a spade a spade.
Given that, who knows how long Japeth would stay with BK considering how many potential “franchise players” they have virtually “given away” in inexplicable lopsided trades? I even heard a wild rumor he would’ve only stayed for ONE CONFERENCE. How wild is that?
Now with regards to the legal aspect, obviously I’m not a lawyer but here’s my understanding on it, lawyers out there, correct me if I am wrong please. We have to realize it’s still a CONTRACT OFFER. Take those 2 words. First CONTRACT, one major component of which is the meeting of two minds and agreeing on all grounds among them money, length, and terms. Second OFFER, since it is a contract which needs a meeting of minds, it is still an offer. Meaning the other party had to agree then sign. So TEAM has to offer PLAYER. What is the offer for then if it’s presumed the player is in since he joined the draft? Hence not fair to presume draftee will always sign a max offer just coz he entered the draft. Or else the system may as well just do away with a contract offer if a team gives max anyways, is that right?
So let’s go back to Japeth, given that it is bad timing and yes his ethics and “man of his word” is majorly in question. I agree with most who feel this way, but as a longtime fan of his potential, forgive me but I can’t help but to look ahead.
For example he stayed with BK and Coach Yeng for 2 years compared to spending 2 years with Coach Rajko Toroman plus the constant international exposure, where do you think he’d flourish, grow, and spread his wings more? I have the utmost respect for Coach Yeng. He is a damn good coach who’s strengths are his motivational skills (which is tough to do with pros) and being a strategist. But when it comes to honing players skills and developing young talents, I’d give the edge to Coach Rajko (specially now that Coach Yeng no longer has skills specialist Kirk Collier on his staff) considering what he’s done with Iran. And maybe we need not look too far to the middle easy, look at the jaw-dropping development of college players Barroca, Ramos, Ababou, Jazul, and Guevarra in less than a year.
And then there was the promise of Mr Lito Alvarez that he would even allow Japeth to play with Smart Gilas when needed. I really wonder if he thought this part of the offer through considering 1) Gilas will be playing as a guest team in the PBA this coming All-Filipino Conference, 2) it would be so tough for a maturing player to learn from two different styles, that of Coach Yeng and Coach Rajko, and 3) Gilas will be traveling a lot in its effort to get constant international exposure. Is it feasible to have him play and train for BK and Gilas at the same time?
I can’t help but recall I was in similar shoes. When I left GMA7 for ABS-CBN in 2004. I was in major heat. Accused of jumping ship solely for the money. I didn’t break rules, laws nor violate any contract provision, in fact I was too honest it seems. But loyalty and delikadeza was in question. But I realized I could grow and spread my wings elsewhere where I had more opportunities. It was an awkward and ugly separation at that time. But time heals all wounds, and it did. And without a doubt it has turned out better for me. I may not be a superstar but I found my niche and my “place in the sun”
To wrap it up, the analogy of a RUNAWAY BRIDE comes to mind. Don’t mind who is which gender, but point is Japeth was “engaged” with BK, but when he learned more about what life would be like with his fiancé and how he would progress in the next few years, he knew he had to take the bitter pill and pull the plug, no matter how ugly it was going to be with the loyal family of his fiancé. It always looks bad to leave someone at the alter, but in the future you’ll say “wow, he had guts, and foresight”. But as the song goes, he may just have made the right choice, but at the wrong time.
Japeth has made it clear he is sorry for the mess and is willing to face any and all consequences. For now, my fervent wish is for people to accept that the PBA will do what they can with the current rules they have, and lets wish Japeth well as he embarks on his new mission.